As it’s Organic Fortnight, I have swapped some of my grocery purchases for organic ones. I wanted to find out if they are more expensive than non-organic versions and how the quality compares. Last week I outlined the prices and choices on offer in my local Waitrose. Since then, I’ve been busy sampling my purchases below:
Waitrose organic spaghetti 99p
Flahavan porridge oats £1.99
Good Earth tea £2.65
Yeo Valley fruity yoghurts 82p (special offer)
Waitrose organic king prawns £3.99
Waitrose organic butter £1.19
Village Bakery organic chocolate brownies £1.39
Duchy Originals mince £2.24 (special offer)
Duchy Originals milk £2.38
With the exception of the porridge and the cut-price mince, most items were more expensive than their non-organic competitors. But what about their taste, quality and eco credentials?
I cooked a meal using the king prawns and spaghetti. I found the spaghetti quicker to cook than the usual brand I buy. It was delicious but, to be honest, I didn’t notice any difference in taste from the non-organic king prawns and spaghetti. However, according to the packet, the prawns, sourced from Ecuador, were organically farmed with care for local communities and wildlife.
I ate the Flahavan porridge oats with the Duchy Original’s milk. I often eat porridge but this was really superior stuff and I will definitely buy it again. I’m not sure if the milk tastes hugely different from non-organic milk, although it was delicious in the porridge, but the price difference is so minor that I would buy it again too. Duchy’s Originals says its dairy cows graze on clover rich pastures. A small selection of West Country farmers, chosen for their high standards of animal welfare, produce the milk and Duchy’s donates money to the Prince of Wales’ Countryside Fund which supports rural communities.
The Duchy’s mince was something special. I used it in one of my (few) signature dishes – burritos. It’s a meal that relies on good quality mince. I have cooked it hundreds of times but I really noticed the difference on this occasion. The flavour of the mince and the lack of fat and gristle really came through. It was absolutely delicious. I would purchase this again, although, given the normal price of £9.98 per kg, I might wait until it’s on special offer. The packet states that it is produced from cattle reared on a diet rich in grass and forage. I was surprised not to have more information than this as I’d like to know where these cattle are from and who rears them.
I enjoyed the Yeo Valley yoghurts, although DJ said he found them a little more tart compared to the usual brand we buy. On the eco front, the pots and packaging were fully recyclable, the milk is from a West Country-based cooperative farm and the company claims its dairies are powered by green electricity. We could also taste the difference in quality of the Waitrose salted butter compared to our usual brand.
I felt particularly worthy drinking the Good Earth tea. These teabags are singlehandedly trying to save the planet. They are Fairtrade, organic, unbleached, GM free and farmed on a low impact basis. Again, I couldn’t detect any difference in taste between these and our normal brand. But it may be because we are fussy about tea and buy pricier teabags anyway.
The Village Bakery chocolate brownies were also a success story. They were organic, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, vegetarian and should have been fun free too by the sound of them, but they were amazing. I’m ashamed to admit I ended up eating all four of them myself…Sorry DJ. On the eco front, the packaging was made from recycled cardboard.
All in all, I was pleased with the quality of my purchases and their eco and fair trade credentials. I feel these working practices should be supported. What worries me is that the pricing still puts them out of reach of many consumers and this is something that needs to be tackled if organic produce is to be more accessible. I don’t feel I could afford to buy all of these products every week.
Later in the week the Soil Association will be answering your questions about what organic means, pricing and how they support organic farmers.
Can you taste the difference between organic and non-organic produce? Should we pay more for better quality, sustainable food? Leave a message and let me know.
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